Lice Broadway Show

Spammers say the darndest things:

I have a great idea for a Broadway show, My company is Lice**** the professional service for the removal of head lice. The anguish,helplessness, and then the relief of the Parents with children with head lice is a wonderfull setting for a Broadway hit. Please contact me at 917-***-****.

Tickets go on sale… never.

New Plugin Version 2.1.2

To celebrate Akismet day we have a new version of the WordPress plugin for y’all.

Version 2.1 main new addition is the ability to filter by comment type, as seen here:

Akismet tabs

There’s also a new hook so other plugins could add addition tabs to the sub-nav as well — I’m curious to see what people end up putting there. If you use that hook for a plugin, be sure to let me know so we can blog about it.

Download Akismet

Update: There were two small bugs, if you have 2.1.2 all errors (headers sent, etc) should be fixed.

Spammers Say the Darndest Things

“Please do not delete this. Money obtained from spam will go to children in uganda.”

Uh huh. I’ll get right on that. ;)

Letting Spam In For a Day?

Jesper Rønn-Jensen is planning to remove all spam protection from his blog on December 15. It’s easy to forget just how much anti-spam solutions help bloggers. It’s not just Akismet — there are many other methods from CAPTCHA to Spam Karma.

It was not so long ago that a blogger could wake to find a couple of hundred (or more) spam comments that arrived overnight. Deleting them not only took time but it also took some of the fun away from blogging.

So to remove all protection — and to announce it ahead of time — is interesting. Will you join in? How much time will it take to delete the spam on just that day? And how much time does Akismet therefore save you? If you participate, let us know!

It really is spam

Back when spamming started it was a very crude business. Comments left would consist of many links around one subject – “Buy my porn” or “Buy my pills.” These posts were very obviously spam and blog owners deleted them when they saw them. At some point the spammers changed tactics.

Everyone likes a compliment and we all like to think that what we write is interesting — the spammers are targeting that vanity. These are all spam:

Interesting Findings of the Blog World » Chuck Norris wants a Bible Curriculum in the Public Schools (Gasp!)
[...] Read the rest of this great post here [...]

Very interesting… as always!

For the most part I agree with you and enjoy reading your posts.

Hi, you have a jolly good post here, thanks for the good read

[...] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.

Anything from universityupdate.com

And in all the above cases someone told Akismet that it was not spam. In each of the above cases the spammers won because on all those blogs their spammy link is staying. You need to look at the links in the post or the author link. Click it — where does it go?

Do you nofollow your links? It makes no difference — spam is spam. Only Google check for no-follow links and even if everyone did, do you want someone to associate your blog with drugs? Porn? It takes one visitor to your blog to go to those sites and click on a single ad for you to have made them money. Leaving that spammy link is bad for you and great for the spammer.

In the case of the pingbacks (the ones that start [...]) the spammers are actually stealing your work, putting it on their website and hoping people searching for information will find them first, not you – and again they all have lots of spammy ads. So you lose real people reading at your blog and again your work makes them money.

And lastly of course they want you to tell Akismet that this spam is not spam. They want you to help make Akismet become less effective so you can get even more spam. Akismet is pretty good at stopping this stuff but your help would make this even better.

Don’t let the spammers con you — check those links.

New Competitor

It’s hard to have a market with only one player. Though web spam is a huge problem touching countless millions of people, there are still only a few ways to stem the tide. Outside of Akismet, almost all solutions thus far have been user-hostile, like CAPTCHA, not adaptive, like all the one-off solutions people do, or falsely assume that web spam is anything like email spam. (There was briefly an Akismet clone called Linksieve, but I can’t find it on the web anymore.)

Today we would like to welcome a new entrant to our nascent market, Defensio. They have a similar approach to us, with a centralized API that gives a thumbs up or down for a comment, and some added information indicating “spamminess.” Best of luck, guys!

(And for those wondering, Akismet only returns “yes” or “no” to avoid giving spammers any additional information. However the interface for managing spam could definitely be better.)

Spam and Economics

If you’re curious about some techniques of spammers and the intersection between economics and spam, check out this talk by Ross Anderson at Google:

Downtime

We had a 40 minute downtime in our San Antonio location last night. This probably caused some obvious spam on your blog to be missed by Akismet.

We’re obviously looking on the systems side at what happened and how to prevent it, but also on the client side we’d like to make the WP plugin deal more gracefully with not being able to contact the mothership.